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Disraeli's funeral

Memorials of Lord Beaconsfield, reprinted from the Standard (Macmillan & Co., 1881).

The coffin lies on its bier in an alcove leading out of the modest hall of Hughenden Manor. But of its material, one might almost say of its dimensions, nothing can be seen. It is literally one mass of floral beauty. Here are wreaths from every member of the Royal Family in England bouquets of primroses sent by the Queen, with an inscription attached to them, say ing that they came from Osborne Hill, and that they are of the sort which Lord Beaconsfield loved. Here are garlands of gardenias and camellias, of rose-buds and Lent lilies, of crocus, and hyacinth, and daffodil...

As each visitor enters the drawing-room he is received by Lord Rowton [Montagu Corry], who utters, however, only a few words, and those with baited breath. Ambassadors, statesmen, diplomatists, cabinet ministers, past, present, and future; country gentlemen who years ago occupied a seat in the House of Commons, but who have since retired, and who probably have no intention of returning to parliamentary life; professional men doctors, lawyers, and littérateurs are all here together.

On the following Saturday, April 30th, the Queen, accompanied by Princess Beatrice, paid a visit to the tomb of the late Earl of Beaconsfield, and the vault, which was again reopened to receive the royal offerings of affectionate respect, was afterwards finally closed. The visit of Her Majesty was intended to be strictly private, and the secret was most faithfully kept by the few to whom it was confided. On Thursday Lord Rowton was summoned to Windsor, when the Queen intimated her desire to visit Hughenden churchyard and lay on the coffin of the deceased Earl another wreath. The Queen also wished to follow the exact route travelled by Lord Beaconsfield on his last return from Windsor to Hughenden, and to traverse the exact course of the bier on the day of the funeral from the Manor House to the tomb...

Arrangements were made for securing the desired privacy without exciting public curiosity, which for several days past has been very sensitive in the district in consequence of the trench leading to the vault not having been completely filled in. Rumour accounted for the fact by asserting that an iron door to close the aperture was in course of construction, and when the masons were employed on Saturday to re-open the trench, it was generally believed that this was the case.

After ten minutes’ stay within the church, the Royal visitors walked across the greensward to the inclined excavation leading to the opening to the vault. They were followed by the Queen’s personal attendant, who carried a beautiful wreath and cross, formed of white camellias and other flowers, exquisitely worked in porcelain, brought in the Royal carriage from Windsor Castle. For a few seconds Her Majesty paused at the head of the incline and stood looking sorrowfully down the sloping path at the open vault. Then, followed by Princess Beatrice, Lord Rowton, the Lady in Waiting, and Lord Charles Fitzroy, Her Majesty walked into the tomb and placed the wreath and cross upon the heap of floral offerings, which completely obscured the lid of Lord Beaconsfield’s coffin.

When, at last, the sad visit was concluded the Queen and Princess Beatrice emerged slowly from the excavation, and, walking to their carriage, drove from the churchyard, some heavy drops of rain falling as the Royal party proceeded up the steep and winding roadway on the hillside to the small plateau on which the residence of the late Lord Beaconsfield is situated... Before their departure for London, Lord Rowton and Sir Philip Rose returned to the churchyard, and saw that the masonry work for finally closing the vault was far advanced, Her Majesty having expressed a desire that the vault should not again be opened.

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